Sisco Defends Us Middle East Policy at Meeting of Major Jewish Organizations

Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs, explained and defended the United States Government’s position in offering proposals for solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict in a meeting today with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The meeting was held behind closed doors and was entirely off-the-record. The JTA learned that Mr. Sisco spoke for some 90 minutes in his exposition of American policies and procedures in seeking a Mideast solution, and then replied to questions. The initiative for the meeting came from Mr. Sisco and the session was convened at his request.

Conference officials declined to discuss Mr. Sisco’s presentation or to offer any reaction to it. Some of the participants said they had been impressed by Mr. Sisco’s evident sincerity but stressed they could not comment on his exposition without violating the conditions under which he had spoken.

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One participant in the conference told the JTA that Mr. Sisco, in a thoroughly documented presentation, had given his listeners the clearest and most comprehensive exposition of the American policy they had ever heard. They were able now, to understand it. this source said, but he stressed that this did not mean that they accepted Mr. Sisco’s reasoning and justification of that policy.

It was understood that plans for the convening of a two-day emergency conference of the American Jewish leadership to be held in Washington on January 25-26 were not affected by today’s meeting. The Washington conference being organized by the presidents’ conference will be attended by Jewish community leaders from all parts of the country. Present plans indicate that it will be the largest and most representative gathering of American Jewish leadership since the emergency meeting during the Six-Day War in 1967. The fact that Mr. Sisco sought the occasion to present the Administration view once again to American Jewry and to seek to allay fears widely expressed by the American Jewish community that the Administration was weakening dangerously in its support of Israel, was taken as evidence of the effect the massive American Jewish protest has had in Washington.

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